Put Up a Flag ---- Anyone Can Automate Web Page Translation

This Mexican flag is hot linked to a URL at Google that provides a translation. In this case, we obtain the Spanish translation of my web page via the one line of code wrapped in a URL:


Incidentally, it's easy to see the some of the pitfalls of machine translation with this example. When the machine sees the word "Fall" in the phrase "Fall Term Courses" the machine misses the season --- and "falls" on its butt.

Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), even Arabic.

These are no harder, but they do not show up very well unless you have the proper fonts installed. If you have a reasonably new computer, you'll have the fonts, but if you have an old one you may not.

On second thought, if you can read any of these languages you probably have the right fonts installed. The Japanese translation below works fine on my new laptop, but just gives me question marks on my old desktop.

What other Languages via Google?

Oddly enough, Russian is not available. This may be a vestige of the cold war, say via a hint from NSA to Google to slow play Russian --- or it could be something else --- why be paranoid?

How about Elmer Fudd, Klingon, and Redneck ?

These are available, but they aren't part of the set that permits the one line coding. Why? Who knows.

One of these days I'll post a homework set in one of these dialects and see if anyone notices the difference. The RedNeck dialect is my favorite, for obvious reasons.

A More Serious Plan

We now often see the "Translate this Page" option whenever we go to a non-English page. If we had our preferred language set to Italian, we'd see the option whenever we visited an English language page. Thus, the little flags became easy, just when they became irrelevant!

Incidentally, this is an economic obsolescence principal that Dean Foster has picked up in several other contexts. This time, I beat him to the punch.

What does seem to be a good idea is to (1) translate the parts of your stuff that you think are interesting (2) save these as a static file (3) have the file Google vi sable (4) have a link back from this "foreign language keyword file" to your relevant English language files.

You can then count on your guests to hit the "Translate This" option according to the needs of the moment. If I am viewing a page in French, Spanish, or German, I usually trust myself as much as the machine --- though it's nice to be able to cheat when the need arises.

In Chinese, Japanese, and Russian --- the need presents itself immediately!

Some "Open Problems"

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